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The five best in-game atmospheres of 2010

1/19/2011

It's a question I get asked pretty often: What was the best atmosphere of any game in the Big 12 this season?

Now, to be fair, I can't weigh in on games I didn't attend this year, so you can find the list of games I did attend this year at the bottom of this post.

But until then, here's my top 5:

1. Texas A&M vs. Nebraska: This game was in a league of its own in 2010. The white towel-waving 12th Man was out in deafening force, making life hard on Nebraska and spurring their team to a season-defining 9-6 win over Nebraska to validate the Aggies late-season charge. The postgame field-storming was a nice touch for the seniors' final game at Kyle Field, too. Wrecking Crew? Yes sir, they showed up in this one.

2. Missouri vs. Oklahoma: Missouri had never beaten a No. 1 team. Coach Gary Pinkel had never beaten Oklahoma or Texas. Pinkel, Blaine Gabbert and the Tigers did it on homecoming with a prime-time audience. A record-breaking 18,000 fans showed up to ESPN's pregame show, "College GameDay," that morning, and a sellout crowd was raucous from start to finish later that night. Gahn McGaffie's touchdown return on the opening kick sent Faurot Field over the top, and Missouri stayed undefeated with a 36-27 win over the Sooners and celebrated with a field-storming of their own and a chance to take the goal posts back to Harpo's in downtown Columbia to be sliced up with hacksaws and distributed to fans.

3. Nebraska vs. Missouri: Nebraska gets credit for one quarter, but that's all it took to KO Missouri in the de facto Big 12 North championship game. The crowd showed up early and was buzzing for the early afternoon kickoff, but the Huskers led 24-0 after one quarter and won 31-17 on the back of a 307-yard rushing day from Roy Helu Jr., who sent the traditional red balloons floating out of Memorial Stadium early with a 66-yard touchdown run on Nebraska's first offensive play.

4. Oklahoma vs. Florida State: The Sooner fans knew their team's home winning streak -- the nation's longest -- was in jeopardy with Florida State coming to town, and they did their part, being consistently loud and helping contribute to a rough day for Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder, whose Heisman hopes came to a screeching halt. The Sooners did their part, too, sending the crowd further into a frenzy by scoring 37 consecutive points in the 47-17 win.

5. Texas vs. Oklahoma: There's no atmosphere like it anywhere else in the Big 12, and as usual, the Red River Rivalry delivered a great game and a great performance from the fans. There wasn't quite as much at stake this year as in past games at the State Fair of Texas, but the Sooners' 28-10 fourth-quarter lead was nearly erased. A late fumble from Landry Jones trickled out of bounds to let the half of the Cotton Bowl wearing red exhale in a 28-20 victory.

Honorable mention: Texas A&M vs. LSU, Oklahoma vs. Nebraska

Here are games I attended that were up for consideration:

  • Week 1: SMU at Texas Tech

  • Week 2: Florida State at Oklahoma

  • Week 3: Texas at Texas Tech

  • Week 4: UCLA at Texas

  • Week 5: Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas

  • Week 6: Nebraska at Kansas State; Texas A&M vs. Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

  • Week 7: Missouri at Texas A&M

  • Week 8: Oklahoma at Missouri

  • Week 9: Missouri at Nebraska

  • Week 10: Baylor at Oklahoma State

  • Week 11: Nebraska at Texas A&M

  • Week 12: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

  • Championship Week: Oklahoma vs. Nebraska at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

  • Bowls: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl); Texas A&M vs. LSU (Cotton Bowl)